LOS ANGELES — Film and TV cameras can start rolling in California as soon as June 12, state officials said on Friday as they approved new guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus on sets.
This as New Zealand’s film industry has started up, with Hollywood director James Cameron and his crew ready to film the sequel of Avatar.
In California, producers will need approval from local health officials to restart filming, according to a statement from the California Department of Health.
Filming around the world was halted in mid-March to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.
A task force of Hollywood studios and labor unions earlier this week proposed extensive coronavirus testing, daily symptom checks, and other safeguards to allow actors and crew members to return to work.
The guidelines were developed by representatives from Walt Disney Co., Netflix, Inc., AT&T, Inc.’s Warner Bros., and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, plus unions including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, and the Directors Guild of America.
To return to work, productions must follow the task force guidelines and also receive clearance from county health officials, the state health department said.
County authorities should consider local coronavirus infection rates, preparedness for a surge in cases, testing capability and other data before granting approval, the department added.
FILMMAKERS BACK TO WORK IN NEW ZEALAND
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s capital Wellington has had an extra buzz of excitement over the past week since Hollywood director James Cameron and his crew flew in to film the much-anticipated sequel of the epic science-fiction film Avatar.
The film is among a handful of productions kicking off in New Zealand as it begins to open up after containing the novel coronavirus, and looks to its film industry to give its battered economy a boost.
New Zealand’s borders remain closed to foreigners but the government gave special permission for the 55 crew members working on the Avatar sequel to jet in on a chartered plane.
New Zealand’s mountains, meadows and forests, made famous by The Lord of the Rings trilogy, have drawn several major film productions over recent years.
About 47 productions were underway when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern imposed a tough lockdown on March 26 to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
It was a great success and the virus has been almost eliminated in New Zealand, which could be among the first countries in the world to return to normal this week, apart from the closed border.
Avatar producer Jon Landau posted a picture of himself and director Cameron after landing last week and said they would self-isolate for 14 days in line with government rules.
With people around the world cooped up at home, pressure is on filmmakers and other content creators to make new material and get it out.
But what’s holding them back is the lack of safe places to work, industry experts say. Now New Zealand is an option. — Reuters